Trojans Thunder into Second Consecutive Final Four

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Some Twinfield-Cabot team members are pictured as they ran across the field toward the crowd after their quarter-final 1-0 win over Twin Valley October 29. Pictured from left are: Meles Gouge, Jola Otten, Cooper Bernatchy, Sam Russell, Franklin Castillo, T.J. Bernatchy and Darshan Eddleman. The team will play their semi-final game at Rivendell Academy on November 2 at 3 p.m.

by Ken Brown

MARSHFIELD – The Twinfieid-Cabot boys’ soccer team raced past Craftsbury Academy (CA) in the first round of the Division IV playoffs before edging a stout Twin Valley team in the quarterfinal round over the weekend to reach their second consecutive Final Four.

Thomas Gouge and Darshan Eddleman led an offensive explosion in the second half with two goals apiece as the Trojans handled the Chargers at home last Wednesday 7-0. Meles Gouge, Tej Stewart, and Franklin Castillo rounded out the scoring on the day. Neil Alexander made one save for Twinfield-Cabot and freshman Grayson McNaughten was stellar for the Chargers, turning away seven shots in the loss. The Trojans swept the season series over CA 3-0.

“We did a poor job of capitalizing on our scoring chances in the second half. We held possession and fired 14 shots, but couldn’t find the back of the net. CA’s keeper made some phenomenal saves to keep the match close in the first half and that freshman is going to be a force to be reckoned with. We did a nice job of refocusing at halftime and played with much more discipline. Everything was sharper and once we got that first goal, everyone relaxed a little and the whole team played better. I was very pleased with how the boys adjusted,” said head coach Peter Stratman.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Dalton Gravel (No. 12) of Craftsbury advances the ball up the field as Twinfield-Cabot’s Darshan Eddleman (No. 23) looks to steal during playdown action at Twinfield October 26. Twinfield-Cabot won 7-0.

A first half goal by Meles Gouge proved to be the game-winner for Twinfield-Cabot as they outlasted fifth seeded Twin Valley in the quarterfinal round at home over the weekend 1-0. Darshan Eddleman received a leading ball into the corner and sliced through two Wildcat defenders before finding Gouge who was making a run in the box. The Trojan’s leading goal scorer executed a clinical finish, sliding a shot past Twin Valley’s keeper for the only score of the match. The Trojan defense and Neil Alexander were stout once again, making five stops on the day, posting their ninth shutout of the season. Liam Wendel made two saves in the loss for the Wildcats as they ended their season at 9-6-1.

“Twin Valley always has good teams that know how to win under head coach Buddy Hayford and we knew that it would be a tight match. Our guys played an exceptional first half and did a good job of dictating the tempo of the match. Twin Valley mounted several dangerous attacks in the second half, but Neil and the defense came up big. It was a great win and I’m very proud of how the boys played today,” said Stratman.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Twinfield-Cabot junior Meles Gouge (No. 5) and Kaelyn Lackey (No. 13) of Twin Valley rush to take possession of the ball during quarterfinal play at Twinfield October 29. Gouge scored the winning goal. Twinfield-Cabot edged Twin Valley 1-0.

It was the 11th win of the season for Stratman and the Trojans, tying the school record set just last fall. Stratman led the Twinfield-Cabot program to their first Division IV Final Four in 21 years in 2021, where they narrowly lost a chance play for the state title. His team is excited for another chance to be one of the Final Four teams with championship aspirations, but they’ll have to knock off the top team in the division to get there.

“The boys have worked hard to get here and they’re excited to match up against Rivendell. We know they’ll be tough, you don’t get to be the No. 1 seed by accident! We’re excited by the opportunity to play in our second consecutive semifinal and most of the boys now have a year or two of playoff experience, which always helps,” said Stratman.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Twinfield-Cabot freshman Eli Russell (right) looks to pass the ball as opponent Caleb Dupuis (left) is ready to steal. In the goal is Twinfield-Cabot’s Neil Alexander. The quarterfinal game took place at Twinfield October 29. Twinfield-Cabot inched by Twin Valley 1-0.

Something has to give when the Trojans travel to top seeded Rivendell Academy on Wednesday as both defenses have yet to surrender a goal this postseason. The Raptors lost their season opener against Division III Thetford Academy and have reeled off 13 straight since. They swept the season series against Twin Valley in two very tight matches. If Twinfield-Cabot pulls the upset, they would play for the Division IV state championship at Applejack Stadium in Manchester on Saturday.